A Vancouver woman is sharing her experience and warning other women, after a seemingly regular errand run turned scary when she was followed by a stranger while walking home.
Jamie Coutts had just left the Shoppers Drug Mart at Dunsmuir and Granville Street early Wednesday evening, when she sensed that someone was following “less than two feet” behind her.
“I quickly stepped off the sidewalk to let the person pass, instead of passing they just stopped and stared at me,” she said on social media.
Coutts said she then told the man he was walking too close to her, but he didn’t say or do anything different, and just continued to follow her.
At that point, she decided to loop around the block a few times, just to be sure the man was, in fact, following her, which he was.
It was then she decided to pull out her phone, switch the camera to selfie mode, and record what was happening.
Coutts said she recorded the man “for almost 10 minutes” while walking as fast as she could, noting at one point, he appeared to pull a switchblade out of his pocket.
Arriving at an intersection where the light was about to turn red, Coutts said she quickly ran for it, hoping that doing so would deter the man from following her once the light changed.
However, “he walked right through the red light and followed me to the skate park.”
Coutts said that once she arrived at the skate park, she sat down with a group of people she didn’t know, with the idea that if the man tried to do anything, there at least would be a number of witnesses.
In response, the man stopped approximately five feet away from the group and “just stared at us,” she said.
After a few minutes, the man left in the opposite direction of where he and Coutts had arrived from.
“This all happened in broad daylight,” she said.
Coutts said people have inquired as to why she didn’t call 911 or the police during the incident. However, in her mind, she believed having a video was important at the time.
“If I took away the camera I was nervous I wouldn’t catch him if he tried to do something,” she added.
On Thursday, Coutts told Daily Hive that she filed a police report about the incident.
With her Facebook post now going viral, Coutts said some people have suggested that perhaps the man saw her use cash while shopping and was hoping to rob her.
Since sharing her story, Coutts said she has received messages from other women about “being hunted” by the same man.
“This is clearly a pattern, and an obvious suspect in a rising threat to the women of Vancouver,” she said.
Coutts is most concerned about the fact that the man allowed himself to be filmed “with zero fear or regard of being caught as he stalked me in broad daylight. This could have easily turned into a kidnapping, assault, or sex trafficking story if I hadn’t found help.”
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On Thursday, VPD Sgt. Steve Addison confirmed that the incident had been reported to police and an investigation had been opened.
“This incident is very concerning to us, and we take it very seriously,” he said.
Asked about reports of other women having similar encounters with the same man, Addison said he’s “not aware” of other people who have come forward to police to report incidents that specifically match what happened in this case.
Still, he noted police “encourage others who may have had contact with this person… to contact us right away.”